I. “Managing in a desert” (suggested by all the stakeholders). The national and uncertain stagnant economic situation persists with falling production values and salaries. A failure in commitment from the state, lack of transparency, and fragmentation of administrative interventions continue. Institutional failures lead to natural resource mismanagement, e.g., illegal felling and unstable local governance. Landowners are reluctant to change and innovate. Land distribution and access to natural resources, such as water and firewood, are inequitable. Small and medium-scale farmers intensify production and overexploit natural resources, or sell off and move. Rural depopulation, social stratification, and local conflicts demoralize social networks. Absent on-farm job opportunities, worsening insolvency, and environmental degradation make the region dependent on external aid and food-relief programs and, hence, more sensitive to economical and environmental shocks.
II. “Community-based protectionism” (suggested by landless people, small famers and women, local authorities, and other institutions with social and environmental concerns). This is a community-based natural-resource conservation scenario with improved small-scale farming systems within a protectionist Sandinista policy framework. Investments and state-subsidized programs with credit schemes and guaranteed prices provide incentives for small farmers to explore new market opportunities. Policies on consumption, including food aid, are implemented in response to rising commodity prices. Communities, trade unions made up of small farmers, and cooperatives, are organized with NGO support, to export within Central and Latin American alliances. These schemes promote fair-trade contracts and alternative production, e.g., dairy, organic, or livestock production. Community comanagement strengthens local governance. Local communities are guaranteed access to land and natural resources by law. Large-scale commercial production doesn’t receive incentives. Improved education, off-farm job opportunities, and effective international funds that support conservation programs and environmental policies contribute to reduced land pressure. Primary land use changes are a mosaic of small farmland and dry forest expansion. Diverse small-scale farming systems may provide local food.
III. “Development and conservation” (suggested by women, small farmers, medium-scale semirural cattle raisers, large-scale commercial traditional landowners). This negotiated scenario emphasizes agroenvironmental programs that encourage Payment for Ecosystem Services mechanisms, low-cost green technologies, and agroecological practices, and are enforced through international funds. State interventions promote equitable land distribution, rural investments with long-term credit, microenterprise development, and public–private partnerships between landowners and communities, food and agricultural input, and commodity price protection and other policies on production and trade. Local institutions are reinforced through decentralization and determined initiatives to reduce corruption. Agroecotourism based on traditional production and handicrafts provides local capital influx and diversifies household incomes. Off-farm economic opportunities, income redistribution, and improved labour conditions are encouraged by changes in local development pathways. As the population increases and exchanges with urban areas become more frequent, traditional values, solidarity, and local culture thereby coincide with new lifestyles.
IV. “Progress and technology” (suggested by medium-scale semirural cattle raisers, large-scale commercial traditional landowners, commercial entrepreneurs, and local institutions with development concerns). National economic growth and neoliberal policies dominate this scenario. Governmental actions and functions are constrained. Agroindustries are oriented toward dairy and meat production. Opportunistic investors and landowners take advantage of liberalized land tenure and international trade agreements. Local agropastoral systems are progressively intensified and mechanized. Small-scale and traditional farming systems vanish. Rising demand for green energy upholds land conversions toward biofuel plantations. Land concentration reinforces socioeconomic inequalities. Social programs and the creation of skilled jobs in the agroindustries have trickle-down effects on community welfare by providing new livelihood opportunities. Young people adopt modern lifestyles.